Cambodian Union Leader Gets 18-Month Prison Sentence for Facebook Comments

  • Morm Rithy received an 18-month prison sentence from the Phnom Penh court
  • Rithy criticized the arrest of a casino worker on a Facebook post two years ago
  • In a similar situation in 2023, the courts sentenced a union leader to two years in jail
Cambodian flag with handcuffs
A Cambodian union leader will go to jail for 18 months for defending a casino worker on Facebook. [Image:]

While trade union leaders in the US have the right to protect their worker’s rights through many means, this is not the case in certain other countries. A union leader in Cambodia will now spend 18 months in prison just for comments he made in a live Facebook broadcast.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Morm Rithy on Tuesday, also dishing out a 2m riel ($500) fine. The 35-year-old serves as the Vice President of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, which aims to protect the rights of workers in the South East Asian country.

Rithy deemed the worker’s arrest unjust and unacceptable

So, what was the post in question? Rithy criticized the arrest of a casino worker on Facebook two years ago. The worker was a union member employed at a casino in the southern Cambodian city of Sihanoukville. Rithy deemed the worker’s arrest unjust and unacceptable, causing the casino to file a criminal complaint against him.

Critics of the Cambodian government claim it uses the judicial system to persecute critics and political opponents, including trade unions. The Federation called the sentencing of Rithy “an act of intimidation and harassment of the rights of workers’ representatives (and) obstruction of the exercise of trade union rights.”

In a similar situation in May 2023, Cambodian courts sentenced the President of Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld to two years in prison. He tried to defend casino workers who wanted their jobs back after lay-offs during the COVID pandemic.

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